As far as smart growth goes, there’s a “new urbanism” – a design movement frequently at the heart of today’s growth, which encourages a mix of homes and businesses in a pedestrian friendly environment. It is a design practice now taking hold in many North American cities.
In the language of urban planners, “intelligent cities” embrace 21st century technologies that track when and how many people cross the street, water and energy consumption and peak hours at every transit stop. Technology will soon be able to have drivers bid on parking spots via their cell phones, with the parking spot going to the highest bidder.
The emphasis of urban planning has shifted from managing suburban sprawl to improving urban anchors in regions, like Waterloo Region. It’s happening now because younger people are seeking urban lifestyles, near jobs and mass transit. Older, empty-nesters are also moving closer to public amenities like cultural centres, libraries and coffee shops.
In the recent past, with the economic recession (economic downturn), urban centers with good transportation faired much better than suburbs. It may be that the huge house in the far-flung suburb will become a thing of the past.
Intelligent cities are not only getting backing from environmentalists, but businesses are coming on board as well. Businesses like IBM, Siemens Phillips and Cisco (to name a few) are creating technology to help cities grow smartly.
Looks to me like Waterloo Region is trending with the best cities in North America.